Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Perrotta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Perrotta. Show all posts

16 October, 2014

Tom Perrotta, "The Chosen Girl"

"The Chosen Girl" is about, conversely, not being chosen or even worse ostracized. Rose, the mother, is basically ostracized by Russell her son. He has lame and superficial excuses not to visit his mother or spend the holidays with her. The "chosen girl" goes to school during an 8-degree day and has to wait for the bus wearing only a sweater and scarf. We later learn she is deaf, so ostracized in a sense, and since she and her siblings are members of a stringent church group, they are ostracized by the other school kids.
Russell, Rose's son, was bullied and teased when he was a kid and horrified when his mother intervened. So he'd been ostracized as a youngster in school but is now a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills--his wife goes under the knife so that she feels okay about her thighs--and has no time for his mother. He escaped, in a sense. Rose dons an outfit much like the "chosen girl's" so that Rose can feel how cold it is for the girl that she has watched wait for the school bus on many a cold morning. A heavy parka awaits for Rose's grandson but since they're not going to come visit after all, Rose decides to give the coat to the "chosen girl." When Rose approaches and enters the church, she is welcomed and feels at home and fits right in, "her voice blending in with everyone else's."

"The Chosen Girl" is included in Perrotta's collection, Nine Inches. It was first published by the Gettysburg Review. I had checked a copy out of the library but decided to purchase a copy. It's a great group of stories.

30 March, 2014

Tom Perrotta, "The All-Night Party" and "The Test-Taker"

Liz, divorced with a teenaged daughter, allows people to cajole her into volunteering her every spare minute and yet she still feels guilty. Dana, her daughter, has a charmed life while her mother lacked self-esteem in high school which she is still fighting. Liz chaperones an all-night graduation party and runs into a girl who also has no self-esteem. Liz shows her some compassion. The cop who had years earlier given Liz a driving ticket was hired also to work the party. Liz sees that different viewpoints or different circumstances and times are necessary for a full and realistic picture.

This is the type of story that elicits compassion from the reader. It's realistic and contemporary. However, shifting POV startled me a bit. "Liz would have liked to stick around, but Sally was in no mood to linger. Her shift was over; she just wanted to get Liz settled, then go home and get some sleep."

"The Test-Taker" is a first-person POV story about a smart high-school kid was takes SAT tests for other kids and the severe crush he has on Sarabeth which leads him to seek revenge.

Both of these stories are in Perrotta's collection titled Nine Inches: Stories.

LINKS:
link to Tom Perrotta's web page
Wikipedia page

15 March, 2014

Tom Perrotta, "Backrub" and "Grade My Teacher"

The first two stories in Tom Perrotta's collection, Nine Inches: Stories, are hilarious and emotionally honest. In "Backrub" a smart but arrogant kid messes up and in "Grade My Teacher" a fat girl and a former fat girl lash out.

Both stories are incredibly engaging and well constructed. I can see why his stories would be developed into television series or movies. I don't usually read a book of short stories straight through but this one I might.

"Grade My Teacher" was first published in Five Points.

LINKS:
Perrotta's web page